Participants of the Stakeholder dialogue organized by INERELA+ Nigeria on the 23rd of July 2022
INERELA+ Nigeria has been at the forefront to put an end to stigmatization challenges in the fight against HIV/AIDS in the country. Stigmatization and discrimination are the major challenges in fighting the scourge and efforts are on to put an end to the challenges. Through the UNAIDS-Faith Based Initiative project, on the 23rd of July 2022 INERELA Nigeria in collaboration with the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), the Christian Council of Nigeria (CCN), and the Christian Health Association of Nigeria (CHAN) held a national stakeholder dialogue to draft an agenda for the national consultation addressing HIV-related stigma and human rights.
The theme of the was dialogue “setting agenda for faith-based consultations on stigma and human rights, in the context of HIV.” According to UNAIDS stigma, discrimination, and other rights violations continue to impede progress in the HIV response by increasing risk and vulnerability and deterring many people from seeking or obtaining services. Speaking at the event, INERELA+ Nigeria Board Chair, Bishop Mike Akpami noted that religious leaders have the ability to change the narratives and bridge the knowledge gaps and practices that instigates stigma in society. He further stated that INERELA+ Nigeria “is working to strengthen the participation of faith communities in the pursuit of social safety for persons living with HIV”
Also, the representative of the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs Mrs. Khadijah Oladipupo said, “The Council is working hard to ensure the reduction of HIV prevalence rate among the ummah.” Also speaking, the secretary General Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Mr. Joseph Daramola noted that CAN is passionate about the fight against HIV and called on the government not to relent in supporting NGOs, fighting the war. The North East Zonal coordinator National Action Committee on AIDS (NACA) Mr. Tobias John said, religious leaders, play significant roles in reducing incidences of stigmatization of persons living with HIV. The stakeholders emphasized that Faith Based organizations can play a significant role in fighting HIV, using their influential position in communities they can teach the general public about the reality of HIV, its prevention, treatment, care, and support.